- For Immediate Release & Distribution -

EEOC Says Neb. Muslim Workers Faced ‘Unlawful Harassment’

CAIR-Chicago Receives Favorable determination in Religious Accommodation Case

Feature 356 (CHICAGO, IL, 8/28/09) The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today announced that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has determined that Somali Muslim employees at a meatpacking plant in Nebraska faced “unlawful harassment” because of their religion.

SEE: Advocates Say Feds Telling Neb. Plant to Do More to Resolve Muslim Prayer Issue

Last fall, Muslim workers at the Swift Co. plant in Grand Island, Neb., began facing harassment, and in some cases termination, after requesting that their break schedules be adjusted to allow them to perform their daily prayers. (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandates that employers must accommodate the religious practices of employees unless it causes the employer undue hardship.)

After a year-long investigation into the complaints, the EEOC this week said in a letter to CAIR-Chicago that “such accommodation would not have posed an undue hardship to [Swift]” and that the evidence further establishes that Swift’s supervisors “subjected Somali Muslim Employees to unlawful harassment, disparate treatment, and discrimination in terms and conditions of employment based on their religion, national origin, race, and color.” The letter also confirms that some employees were unlawfully terminated in retaliation for their requests for religious accommodation.

“This determination is a major victory for the Somali Muslim workers and for every employee who has been denied reasonable religious accommodation,” said CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Director Christina Abraham. “Americans work hard and they deserve to be able to earn a living while knowing they are not sacrificing their beliefs to put food on the table.”

Abraham and CAIR-Chicago Volunteer Attorney Rima Kapitan have been advocating on behalf of the workers.

CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil rights group, which has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil rights group which has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to promote justice, enhance the understanding of Islam, and empower American Muslims.

CONTACT: Amina Sharif, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail: asharif@cair.com; 312.212.1520 or 630.935.5562; Christina Abraham, Civil Rights Director, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail: civilrights@cairchicago.org; 312.212.1520

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